Dabney Schmitt, a board member of Children of Vietnam, was thrilled to raise over $56,000 to benefit homeless and poor children in Vietnam. To her great surprise over half of their 450 donors were new to Children of Vietnam! Let’s hear more about her story now.
What is Children of Vietnam all about?
Well, Children of Vietnam is dedicated to working towards alleviating child poverty in Vietnam. We wanted to increase funding for specific programs such as education, good nutrition and safe shelter. These are essential to fighting poverty.
A few examples of how we plan to use the money is to begin more early education – such as Kindergarten! We’ve had great success with building Kindergartens in Vietnam, but we want to do more. In many cases this requires not only securing a building for the school, but hiring the teacher, and buying the desks.
We were looking for a platform that had the functionality and capacity for fundraising teams, which is how we already approach fundraising. We also wanted to have a seamless donation site—one that looked as if the donations were going to Children of Vietnam—and not to the host platform. CauseVox had all of this and more!
Yours (CauseVox’s fundraising platform) jumped out of the crowd! Your pricing strategy really was fabulous for those of us who are small 501c3s without huge endowments. It gave us a running start to be able to raise the first $5000 without monthly fees, and that’s terrific for a startup.
Can you tell me about your fundraising approach?
Sure. We basically had three to four ideas that we knew we were going to use.
- Recruit fundraisers. We recruited the entire board to fundraise. We knew we wanted our inner circle, the people who are closest and feel the strongest and most passionate about our cause.
- Create a sacrificial project. Everyone had to follow a very stringent diet of a poor family for a week – to live off less than $2 a day. They had to do this in order to demonstrate their commitment. It really got the attention of donors!
- Devise a tool kit for our fundraisers. Our toolkit walked everyone through what they needed to do. It was especially friendly to those who aren’t as web savvy – complete with power point slides to show them how to do everything.
- Use food as our unifying theme. All of our language revolved around food. When each person did their sacrificial fast and had beans or rice for dinner they would post things such as, “this is terrible food for thinking,” “this food doesn’t give me any energy.” This helped people remember how food affects everything while still keeping the focus on the children by including a thought-provoking question such as, “How does poor nutrition impact those children who are trying to concentrate in school?”
What tips would you offer to other fundraisers?
- Spend more time on marketing. All of us on the team agree that we needed to do more preparation to market it well before the campaign began.
- Learn how to use social media to get the word out. Next time we want to use social media to help us to carry it even further than the fifty donors each of us reached out to.
- Mass email doesn’t work. Unless you know the person you’re soliciting, you can’t rely on email or even a phone call. The best solicitation results come from face to face. They need a personal touch.
What were you surprised by?
We had over 450 donors and most of the 450 donors are new! That is awe-inspiring. It was a wonderful surprise. In a way it encouraged us. It’s as if every donation said, “Keep on doing the good work you’re doing!”